SUNY Stony Brook’s “Alt-Right” Philosophy PhD

SUNY Stony Brook philosophy PhD Jason Reza Jorjani, who is now a lecturer in humanities at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and editor-in-chief of what appears to be an alt-right (white supremacist) publishing firm, Arktos Media, is demanding an apology from the philosophy faculty at Stony Brook, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The apology demand is prompted by minutes Jorjani obtained from a SUNY Stony Brook Philosophy Department meeting at which he was apparently described as being “involved in the Aryan white supremacist movement,” and at which someone (it is not clear who) said “we are going to review his research, his dissertation, and we may or may not issue a statement, though this runs the risk of giving the issue more oxygen.”

It is unclear whether such a review is actually taking place, who is conducting it, what it would involve, and what its possible consequences would be. I recently reached out to the chair of Stony Brook’s Philosophy Department, Professor Mary Rawlinson, for clarification, but (quite reasonably, given the time frame) haven’t heard back from her yet. Jorjani does not appear on the SUNY Stony Brook Philosophy Department page listing recent placements and dissertations.

In a video of him speaking at an event sponsored by the white supremacist organization “National Policy Institute” (NPI), Jorjani claims that under his leadership, Arktos will be committed to the following ideas:

  • “Affirmation of the indo-european or ‘Aryan’ tradition.”
  • “An aspiration to transcend the distinction between western philosophy and eastern Indian religions.”
  • “The opposition to a false, modern scientific worldview that’s nihilistically materialist.”
  • A recognition of “psychical phenomena as a key to developing a postmodern or archeo-futuristic science that would deconstruct the distinction between science and spirituality.”
  • “Constructive criticism of the ill-conceived and bankrupt socio-political ideologiues of liberalism, democracy, and universal human rights.”
  • Nietzschean “aristocratic radicalism.”
  • And the idea that “Islam is certainly our enemy.”

According to IHE, John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom who co-edits of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, said of the case:

I have no idea whether Jorjani is a neo-Nazi, but it is completely irrelevant to his academic credentials… Departments should only re-examine a recent Ph.D.’s dissertation work if there is some plausible allegation of research misconduct, and apparently no such allegation exists… [The claim that someone holds offensive ideas] is no reason to re-examine their dissertation, and such attempts to punish controversial speech have a chilling effect on academic freedom.

Academic freedom indeed protects Jorjani’s expression of his bizarre views. It also, of course, protects the expression of disgust at such views—even by his former professors. If that is all that the supposed “statement” mentioned in the Stony Brook Philosophy Department’s minutes was to amount to, then this is not much of a story. I’ll update this post if/when I learn more.

You can find out more about the alt-right here.


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